Having revealed plans earlier this year to acquire a 3D printing business, Swiss dental company Straumann has acquired a 35% stake in German 3D printers Rapid Shape.

The two companies began a collaborative partnership earlier this year and now Straumann intends to further the relationship with acquisition of a non-controlling stake. Back in March, Straumann began supplying Rapid Shape 3D printers as well as 3Shape dental scanners “as part of Straumann’s validated digital workflow for tooth replacement.”

3D printed temporary crowns and bridges. Image via Rapid Shape.

3D printed temporary crowns and bridges. Image via Rapid Shape.

Accelerating adoption

Straumann has not disclosed the sum for its 35% stake but explains the acquisition will enable Rapid Shape to continue investing in development and production of its proprietary technology. Straumann will continue to sell its own branded 3D printers produced by Rapid Shape and hopes to further encourage the incorporation of digital solutions in dentistry. The German 3D printer manufacturer explains it will continue to enter non-exclusive distribution partnerships

Rapid Shape’s current line of 3D printers enable dental laboratories to “produce temporary prosthetic restorations, models and drill templates.” The machines are compact, simple to use and – according to Rapid Shape – can print drill templates in roughly 16 minutes. It is for this ease of use that Straumann hopes it will accelerate adoption of the technology in the dental industry.

3D printed stump model. Image via Rapid Shape.

3D printed stump model. Image via Rapid Shape.

3D printing teeth

The dental market is expected to have large potential for 3D printing in the future and there are several 3D printing companies creating products geared towards the dental market. However, while some companies foresee mass production as a key enabler others have looked towards compact machines to incorporate into existing laboratories or dental surgeries.

U.S 3D printing company, 3D Systems is producing large-scale dental machinery with its modular Figure 4 platform, while others such as Roland DG and Formlabs are concentrating on smaller 3D printers. Roland DG has recently announced a new 3D printer under its DGShape subsidiary, while Formlabs has developed an array of dental resins for its Form 2 SLA printer.

Marco Gadola, CEO of the Straumann Group, explains how the company expects to make a foothold in dentistry,

3D printing will have a key role in dentistry and it was essential for us to gain access to this technology quickly. Rapid Shape is a well-run, fast-growing entrepreneurial company with industry-leading expertise. Their quality, innovation and reliability fit perfectly with our philosophy and enable us to offer 3D printing as part of an exciting portfolio of integrated solutions.

Rapid Shape’s CEO Andreas Schultheiss discusses how the continued partnership will expand Rapid Shape’s business. Schultheiss explains,

Straumann boosts our existing distribution network thanks to its large sales force, global presence and powerful brand. This partnership safeguards our independence as an entrepreneurial company and provides us with the means to continue developing the leading-edge additive manufacturing systems for dental labs and practices as well as for the hearing-aid and jewellery industries.

To learn more about 3D printing in the dental industry, take a look at the latest innovation displayed at the International Dental Show in Cologne earlier this year.

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Featured image shows the Rapid Shape D20 3D printer. Image via Rapid Shape.

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